Carlos was waiting at a table in the center of the room, chatting with a middle-aged, bearded man who was holding up a medicine bottle full of pills. Carlos laughed loudly and patted the man on the back before taking the pills from him.
“Tillie! Come on. I want you to meet Lucca.” Carlos gestured to me, and I quickly walked to the table.
“I don’t understand what I am doing here. I barely passed chemistry in high school…” I trailed off, mumbling words of discontent.
“You won’t be creating these pills, Tillie. You’ll just be ingesting them.” Carlos beamed at me while the shock registered. “I’m not taking any pills of any kind.” I huffed at Carlos and turned around, planning to make a very dramatic exit.
Carlos grabbed my elbow and twisted me around. “Everyone contributes, Tillie. Everyone. We don’t always get to decide how we contribute here, but contributing means you get to stay alive, so why don’t you just hold on a second and let me tell you what you’ll be doing to help HAV, and then the good Doctor Lucca can answer any questions you have about BL8.”
I didn’t respond to Carlos but sat in a chair Dr. Lucca had pulled out for me. Carlos came around the other side of the table and pulled up a chair next to me. He shook a pill from the bottle and held it up between his thumb and pointer finger. The pill looked brown when it was in the bottle, but in the light, it glowed a deep red color. “BL8. Blood Lust version 8 is going to be how we take down the vamps once and for all, and you, Tillie, YOU get to be the person to test the drug and uncover the deepest, darkest secrets of the hierarchy for your people, for HAV.”
Carlos was grinning at the pill as though it held all the secrets of the universe, but I was terrified. He looked like a madman and wanted to use me as a guinea pig for some drug that would take down vampires.
“I don’t think I am right for what you are looking for,” I stammered and stared down at my feet, gripping the sides of the chair. When I finally looked up, Carlos’s eyes burned with rage. Dr. Lucca had a firm grip on Carlos’s shoulder, which I knew was the only thing keeping him from knocking me straight out of my chair for not accepting my assignment.
Dr. Lucca began to explain the purpose of the pill, and Carlos seemed to relax a bit. “Iron makes our blood taste metallic. We have been able to observe vampires going into a kind of frenzy when they are draining someone who is severely anemic. The blood is less metallic tasting, which means it tastes better for a vampire. When a vampire feeds on someone who is anemic and also diabetic, it creates a longing for that blood, much like a sugar addiction in a human. We took this idea and decided to create a drug that would restrict the absorption of iron in a human’s blood while also making it sweeter and addictive to vampires.” Dr. Lucca smiled smugly at the end of his explanation and held out the bottle of pills to me. “Go on, take the bottle.”
I reached out and took the pill bottle. “So, what exactly is in the pill?” I wasn’t sure I really wanted to know, but I figured if I was going to end up forced to take these, I should at least be aware. “Well, there are quite a few ingredients in the pills, but the active ingredients include cocoa, oxalic acid, phenolic acids, phytates, and calcium, which all reduce the absorption of iron. There is also a high amount of glucose to make the blood taste sweeter and tetrahydrocannabinol, which has been observed to give vampires a euphoric and relaxed feeling when it enters their bloodstream. So far, tests have confirmed that the tetrahydrocannabinol and glucose, when iron absorption is restricted, has an addictive effect on vampires.”
I stared at Dr. Lucca blankly, trying to process everything he had just told me. He was so excited about his creation that he was bouncing from foot to foot like a little boy waiting to open presents on Christmas morning. I suppose the unveiling of BL8 is the closest thing to a Christmas these scientists are going to get this year though. I glanced at Carlos who was leaning forward on his knees, waiting for my response.
“So what you are telling me is that you want to turn me into an anemic, diabetic pothead so that vampires can become addicted to me? What the hell good is that going to do? I’m going to die! I just watched my friend die from untreated diabetes when you found me, and now you want me to have the same fate!? You should’ve just left me in that shipping container to die!”
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Releases April 30th, 2018